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Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

Banner 3

Graphic courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

I lived in Port Dickson (PD) for a couple of years.  For many years after my family moved away, PD was a regular day trip destination.  The Si Rusa Inn, with its restaurant and bar open on all sides to the sea breeze, outdoor jukebox, and kampung ladies sitting under the casuarina trees, weaving and selling mengkuang hats, bags, and mats, was a favourite place to spend a Sunday.

That was forty years ago.  The Si Rusa Inn is now derelict.  PD has become crowded with resorts and hotels.  The beaches are not what they used to be.  I stopped going to PD for beach holidays.

PD pdwaterfront com my

Photograph courtesy of pdwaterfront.com.my

In the last few years it has instead become a cycling destination for me.  See BCG Tour Klang – Port Dickson – Klang and Chinese New Year 2017 Tour.

The Avillion Coastal Ride (ACR) has been hosted by PD for a number of years.  I made up for missing the previous ACRs by turning this year’s ACR into a three-day cycling event.  Kota Kemuning to Morib with the R@SKLs, and then solo to PD on Saturday.  The 160km Endurance ACR with friends on Sunday.  And a solo ride home on Monday.

You can tell by the way the pre-ride formalities are managed that an event is run by a competent organiser.  In this case Pedal Explorer and their technical director, Encik Zulkarnain Shah, seen here keeping an eye on the goody bag distribution.

Organiser

Information about the ride was clearly posted outside the room where participants were to collect their goody bags.

IMG_4386

The distribution of ride packs / goody bags was efficiently managed.   I was out of the room, three goody bags in hand, in a matter of minutes.

Those goody bags were heavier than I expected.  That 500g pack of organic rice was an unusual goody bag item.

Goody Bag Mohd Farid Abu Bakar

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Farid Abu Bakar

Registration for the ACR 2017 entitled participants to a discounted rate at the host hotels.  Either the Avillion Admiral Cove, or the Avillion PD.  I had opted for the latter.  So I had a 4.5km / 2.8 ride from the goody bag pickup at Avillion Admiral Cove to the Avillion PD.  With goody bags swinging from my handlebar.

I had been in my cycling kit for more than eight hours. The first thing I needed after checking in to my water chalet was a shower.  I stood fully-clothed under the high-volume shower head, rinsing salt and grime off body and out of kit.

Avillion PD I hadn’t eaten anything since stopping at Morib with the R@SKLs.  I had a late lunch in the Crow’s Nest restaurant, with a view of the Straits of Malacca.

 

Avillion PD 2

Marco, Mark, and Martin drove from KL to PD early on Sunday morning.  I met them at the Avillion PD car park, and we rode to the start line at the Avillion Admiral Cove.

Here we are, waiting for the ride to be flagged off.

Four Musketeers Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

There were lots of cycling clubs and teams, resplendent in their matching kits.  Including this group of former students from my secondary school.

SJI Avillion Coastal Ride

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

There were three distances to choose from.  The 25km / 15.5mi Fun Ride, the 90km / 56mi Scenic Ride, and the 160km / 99.5mi Endurance Ride.

The Endurance Ride participants set off first.  Led out by three riders on postman’s bikes.  The national courier, Pos Laju, was the main sponsor of the ACR 2017.

Pos Laju leadout

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

1,606 participants streamed under the Start / Finish arch.  Including two riders on unusual machines.

Recumbent 2 Avillion Coastal Ride

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

Elliptigo Marco

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

The Endurance Ride route took us south past the old Si Rusa Inn, and then eastward.  Within ten minutes the four of us had latched on to the rear of a fairly large group.  Which included this gentleman on a fat bike.

Fat Bike Avillion Coastal Ride

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

He, and the others ahead of us, provided a draft which we enjoyed all the way to the first water station at Linggi.  Almost everyone in the group stopped there.  We rode through that water station, so we became a peloton of four.

Route

Map courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

At about the 40km / 25mi mark we crossed the border between the state of Negri Sembilan and the state of Melaka, at Lubok China.  We were enjoying the very pleasant roads between the small towns and villages.

In the country Avillion Coastal Ride

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

There wasn’t much traffic on those roads.  Not that traffic would have been a problem.  We were accompanied by a capable set of marshalls on motorbikes, who shielded us from any vehicles.

Outrider Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

There were also mechanics on motorbikes and scooters.  More than a few participants were very grateful for the roadside assistance they received.

Flat Repair Avillion Coastal Ride

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

The mobile marshalls were complementd by marshalls positioned at intersections.  They stopped traffic so that we could keep rolling.  The ever-present marshalls are another hallmark of a well-organised event.

Marshall 3 Avillion Coastal Ride

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

It takes considerable resources to efficiently and effectively manage a cycling event.  In the case of the ACR 2017, this included 300 support crew, officials and volunteers, 3 ambulances, 3 broom lorries, 7 support vehicles, 6 police patrol cars and 60 police motorbikes and pilots.

Kudos to Pedal Explorer, Encik Zulkarnain Shah, the police personnel, and the support crew, officials and volunteers for making the ACR 2017 a safe and memorable event for all the participants.

3km / 1.8mi after crossing the state border, we became a group of three.  Martin did the Scenic Ride.  His route split from ours at the junction of Federal Route 5 and State Route M140.

90km Route

Map courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

We waved goodbye as Martin turned right.  By then, Marco and Mark had been ready for breakfast for some time.  I had had the benefit of a room service breakfast, albeit at the ungodly hour of 4.40am.  (My breakfast was delivered twenty minutes early).

My companions were on the road while I was eating my pancakes, so they were hungry.  We stopped at a food stall in Kampung Jeram, about 50km / 31mi into the ride.

Nasi lemak and iced Milo sorted out the hunger pangs.

Breakfast Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Having only recently fed and watered ourselves, we rolled through the next water station at 72km / 45mi.  We missed out on the dabbing action there!

Water Stop ACR

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

Halfway through the ride we were on the AMJ Highway.  The clouds had burned off, and the temperature was rising.  Our thoughts turned to the ice cold coconut shakes at Klebang Original Coconut Shake.  5km / 3mi away.

All the turns along the route were very clearly marked with red arrows.  Even at junctions without a marshall, it was obvious which way to turn.  We got to Jalan Klebang Besar / Klebang Kecil and turned right, as indicated by the red arrow.

We started looking for Klebang Original Coconut Shake.  2km / 1.2mi later we were riding out of Klebang Besar, without having seen the coconut shake shop.  One look at our route on Strava revealed why.  Klebang Original Coconut Shake is 200 meters / 660 feet to the left of the junction where we had turned right.  So close!

Klebang Shake

Map courtesy of Strava and Google Maps

A couple of kilometers later we turned left onto Jalan Pekan Tanjung 2.  And found a sundry shop with cold drinks and a tap where we could wash our faces.  We spent fifteen minutes there, sitting inside the shop, under a fan, cold drinks in hand.

We had met up with Johan S. a number of times along the route.  He would pass us on the downhills, and we would pass him on the uphills and flats.

IMG_4396

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

We spotted him as he rode past the sundry shop.  A quick yell, and he was soon resting in the shop with us.

Our next destination was Kuala Seafood at Kuala Sungai Baru, 25km / 15.5mi away.  This is the restaurant which was closed, to our great disappointment, when we rode to Melaka about a month ago.  I was certain that the restaurant was along our route, so we wouldn’t miss it the way we had missed Klebang Original Coconut Shake..

Kuala Seafood

Kuala Seafood was open!  A waitress told us that the restaurant had closed for a month so that the staff could have a long holiday.  It had been re-opened for two days.  I told her that the next time they plan to close for a month, they need to put an announcement about it in the newspapers.

It was 12.30pm when we got to Kuala Seafood.  It was at least 35° C / 95° F.  We were shoes-off hot.

Hot Feet Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The food looked delicious, as we expected.  But we were too hot to eat any of it.  All we wanted were ice-cold drinks.

At that point we had about 35km / 22mi left to ride.  We were back on familiar roads between PD and Melaka.  We had cycled before on these roads at about the same time of day, so we knew it was going to get hotter over the next hour or two.  The number of people we saw taking a break in whatever shade they could find bore this out.

In the Shade 2 Avillion Coastal Ride

Photograph courtesy of Avillion Coastal Ride 2017

The last 12km / 7.5mi of the ride included a 10.5km / 6.5mi stretch of Jalan Pintasan Teluk Kemang.  That road is a dual carriageway that serves as an inland shortcut to the Seremban – Port Dickson Highway.  It bypasses the narrow, winding two-way road which runs along the coast.

It was probably 37° C / 99° F, if not hotter, on that bypass.  There is no shade.  And it rolls up and down over its entire length, to the tune of 162 meters / 530 feet of climbing.

Bypass

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

It was too hot to linger.  So we upped the pace, helped by a tailwind, to the finish at the Avillion Admiral Cove.

Because we had lingered over food and drinks along the way, we were amongst the last finishers.  Well behind all the Fun and Scenic Ride participants, and most of the Endurance riders.

So we didn’t get any of watermelon or iced Milo on offer at the end of the ride.  It had all been polished off by the cyclists ahead of us.  I’m looking at you Martin!

There were plenty of packs of biryani rice, chicken, and cabbage left.  It was pretty good too.  Some of the better post-ride food I’ve tasted.  There was lots of water, and chocolate muffins as well.  We didn’t really have to eat our medals..

Sweet Marco

After we ate and cooled down, we rode back to the Avillion Hotel PD for a shower and a change of clothes.  We had one more place to visit.

Azmi Chendol Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

A bowl of Azmi chendol was an excellent end to the ACR 2017.

I’m looking forward to the ACR 2018.

Medal Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Eating Our Way to Melaka

Melaka Banner Johan Sopiee

Graphic courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Mark and I decided that it was high time to break out the Apidura saddle bags and go on an overnight bicycle trip.  We chose Melaka as our destination, because it is a reasonable distance from Kuala Lumpur, the roads are generally good, and the eating along the way and in Melaka is excellent.

After some canvassing, we had a group of six.  Alan and Chee Seng could not stay overnight, so their plan was to ride to Melaka, and then get to Tampin KTM station for the train back to KL.  Johan S., Ridzuwan, Mark and I would spend Thursday night in Melaka.

We were all excited about the trip.  Bikes and saddle bags were set up the day before, and some of us struggled to get to sleep the night before.

We started from where I live.  We were on the MEX Highway by about 6.15am.  The adrenaline levels are a bit high when riding on MEX.  It is a highway after all.  Though at that early hour, there isn’t much traffic leaving KL, so the riding is not too fraught.

We made a quick pit stop at the Seri Kembangan R&R.

Melaka MEX R&R Alan

Photograph courtesy of Alan Tan

As expected, given the wet weather of the preceding days, we got rained on as we left the R&R.  Fortunately the rain wasn’t heavy, and it didn’t last long.  We did have wet roads until we reached Dengkil.  A benefit of the Apidura saddle bag is that it extends back far enough to block the spray coming off the rear wheel.  It is like riding with a rear mud guard.

Dengkil was where our first planned food stop.  There is a roadside stall on the corner of Jalan Aman and Jalan Mutiara 1J.  We stop there for breakfast whenever our rides take us through Dengkil.

Melaka Dengkil Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had a visitor looking for handouts during breakfast.

Melaka Dengkil Cat Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

From the Dengkil bypass we rode along the busy Putrajaya–Cyberjaya Expressway and the Nilai – KLIA Highway before turning right onto the quieter Jalan Besar Salak at Salak Tinggi.

Melaka Rolling Johan sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Our next stop was at the Shell station in Sepang.  70km / 43.5mi done.  110km / 68mi to go.  It was supposed to be a short stop for drinks and the loo, but soon after this picture was taken . . .

Melaka Sepang Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

this picture was taken.

Melaka Flat 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

My front tire had gone soft while we were at the Shell station.  This was the culprit.

Melaka Flat 2 Alan Tan

Photograph courtesy of Alan Tan

An advantage of Two-Way Fit™ rims is that the tire bead stays locked to the rim after a puncture.  A flat tire doesn’t roll off the rim.  A very useful quality when you get a flat while speeding down a winding descent.

The associated disadvantage of 2-Way Fit™ rims is that it is difficult to get the tire off the rim, and even more difficult to seat the tire properly when reinflating the tube.  Thank goodness for the air pump at the petrol station, which generated enough air pressure to quickly seat the tire.

Happy smiles as we finally got going again.

Melaka Sepang Rolling Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

We rode out of the Shell station onto Federal Route 5, which runs along the west side of Peninsular Malaysia, from Skudai in the south to Ipoh in the north.

Our intermediate destination was Cendol Azmi in Port Dickson.  Which serves some of the best cendol I have ever had.  Mark and I have been there a number of times.  We talked up Cendol Azmi over the 25km / 15.5mi to Port Dickson.

So imagine our collective disappointment when we go to Cendol Azmi and found it closed.  What a letdown!

We settled on Sukand’s Food Station, across the road from Cendol Azmi.

Melaka Port Dickson 1 Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

To Sukand’s credit, their cendol was pretty good.  As was the three-layer air bandung.

We debated having lunch in Port Dickson, but decided to hold out until we got to Kuala Sungai Baru, across the state border in Melaka.  Mark and I had eaten at Kuala Seafood during previous cycling trips to Melaka.  That restaurant was a highlight every time.

We stopped to buy Cokes at Pasir Panjang, about halfway between Port Dickson and Kuala Sungai Baru.  We then picked up the pace over the 20km to Kuala Seafood.  2pm had come and gone, and we were hungry.

So imagine our extreme disappointment when we got to Kuala Seafood and found it closed.  What a bummer!!

There weren’t many options for food.  The few restaurants in the vicinity had sold out of their lunch offerings.  We settled for some mediocre fried rice, just to fill out stomachs more than anything else.

We had 40km / 25mi to go to Melaka.  Alan had been talking about getting coconut shakes once we got there.  Melaka is known for good coconut shakes.  Alan said that Klebang Original Coconut Shake was the place.  Having been disappointed twice already, we made Alan call Klebang Original Coconut Shake to make sure that it was open.

It was.

Melaka Coconut Shake 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

And the coconut shakes were good.  Good enough for us to drink a second round of shakes.

Melaka Coconut Shake 2 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

This place is worth visiting again.

Melaka Coconut Shake 3 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

By the time we left Klebang Original Coconut Shake, my patched inner tube was failing.  I gave it a good pump up, and Johan S., Mark, Ridzuwan and I headed to our hotel.

Alan and Chee Seng were heading back to KL that evening.  They first rode to Jonker Walk and Dutch Square for obligatory tourist photographs.

Melaka Alan & Chee Seng 1 Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

And a refreshing recovery beverage.

Melaka Alan & Chee Seng 2 Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

The rest of us checked in to the Hallmark Crown Hotel.  I had booked the hotel sight unseen.  Welcome to the Internet Age!  The price was right – about USD25 per night for a double occupancy room, including buffet breakfast.

We weren’t expecting much, but were pleasantly surprised when we got to our rooms.  Which were clean and comfortable, and had air-conditioning and a mini-fridge which worked.  Plus there was lots of hot water on the shower, and the free wifi signal was strong.

Showered and changed, we walked to the next food destination on our list.  The Makko Nyonya Restaurant.  Another repeat visit venue for Mark and I.  Fortunately for the two of us, Makko was open!

Fried eggplant with chilli, beancurd skin rolls, cincalok omelette, chicken rendang, curry prawns with pineapple, and chendol.

The 180km / 112mi bike ride was worth it for this meal alone.

While we were stuffing our faces at dinner, Alan and Chee Seng had made it to Tampin, and were on the KTM Komuter train back to KL.  Comfortably so.

Melaka Train Alan Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

Not to be outdone in the food stakes, Alan and Chee Seng had supper in KL.

On Friday morning the four of us attacked the hotel buffet breakfast.  An observer would have thought that we hadn’t eaten at all the night before!

Then it was out turn for tourist photographs.

Melaka Tourist 3 Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Melaka Tourist 2 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had, briefly, considered cycling back to KL.  Riding to Tampin and taking the train seemed like a more reasonable thing to do.

Melaka Lebuhraya AMH Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

40km / 25mi of pedalling got us to the Pulau Sebang (Tampin) KTM station.

Melaka Tampin 3 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We loaded our bikes and ourselves into the last carriage of the train.

Two and a bit hours later, we were at the Bank Negara KTM station in KL.  It is a short ride from there to where I live.

It was lunch time, so we made a side trip first, to Santa Chapati House on Jalan Sarikei.  A fitting end to our two-day adventure.  It was, after all, an eating trip with some cycling thrown in for variety.

Melaka Santa 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Thank you Alan, Chee Seng, Johan S., Ridzuwan and Mark for your enjoyable company.  We had a lot of laughs and good riding.  To be repeated for sure.

Footnote

The graphic at the top of this post is a mashup of our coconut shakes and the logo for a anti-littering campaign which was launched by the Melaka state government in 2014.  A take on the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign started there in 1986.